Born as the eldest son of Kausalya and Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, Lord Rama is referred within Hinduism as Maryada Purushottama, literally the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. His life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. A lot of people are not aware of how Sri Rama died. The answer to this question is extremely fascinating as it holds several mysterious and enthralling stories.
Some people also say that death is not a term used with Avatars of Vishnu. All Avatars appear to restore Dharma and then they return to Vaikunta. Disappearance of Sri Ram from earth happened when he entered voluntarily into the Sarayu River. This divine event is described as the death of Lord Rama. The story of the disappearance of Sri Ram is mentioned in many Hindu scriptures. This story of His death is from the Padma Purana.
Sri Ram ruled for eleven thousand years and performed numerous ‘yagnas’ for the benefit of his people. His sons and the sons of his brothers were made kings in many part of the large empire that he ruled. During this period Sita Devi also disappeared from earth when she was taken back by Bhudevi (Mother Earth). Luv and Kush grew to be just rulers like their father.
One day a sage came to Rama and asked him for a private audience. The Saint said that no one should enter the room in which they were having the conversation. Sri Ram directed Lakshman to guard the door of the room and said that if anyone entered the room during the conversation he will be put to death. In some versions of Ramayana, it is said that this saint was none other than Kala Deva, or Time.
The sage appeared to remind Rama that the objective of his appearance on earth was complete and it was time for him return to Vaikunta. While Lakshmana was keeping a watch, the short tempered sage Durvasa approached him and demanded entry. He was furious when he was stopped. He threatened that he will lay a terrible curse of destruction on Ayodhya and its inhabitants and on the entire Raghu clan. Lakshmana was in a fix!
Lakshmana weighed the pros and cons. He concluded that his death would indeed be a lesser calamity than the entire population of Ayodhya being destroyed. So, he admitted Durvasa and received the punishment gladly. Lakshmana deci¬ded every act of his, on the touchstone of either Rama’s wish or the general good. Soon Lakshman realized that this particular situation was the play of time for Him to disappear from earth. He readily agreed to the play of Kala (Time).
He then walked into the Sarayu River and took the form of Ananta Sesha. Sri Ram who came to know about the death of Lakshman decided that it was time to end His Avatar. He then handed over His responsibilities to his sons and bid adieu to all. Lord Rama walked deep into the Sarayu River and disappeared. Soon in the same spot Srihari Vishnu appeared resting on Ananta Sesha and blessed his devotees.
Another mythological story of Lord Rama’s death goes like this…one day, Rama was informed that it was time for him to die. He understood that those who take birth have to experience death. “Let Yama, come to me. It is time for me to return to Vaikuntha, my heavenly abode,” he said. But Yama, the god of death, dared not enter Ayodhya as he was afraid of Hanuman who guarded the gates of Rama’s palace.
To allow Yama’s entry, it was necessary to distract Hanuman. So Rama dropped his ring into a crack in the palace floor and requested Hanuman to fetch it. Hanuman reduced himself to the size of a beetle and entered the crack only to discover that it was no crack but the entrance to a tunnel that led to Nag Lok, the land of serpents. Hanuman met Vasuki, the king of serpents there and informed him of his mission.
Vasuki took Hanuman to the centre of Nag Lok where stood a mountain of rings! “There you will surely find Rama’s ring,” said Vasuki. Hanuman wondered how he would do that as it was like finding a needle in a haystack. But to his delight, the first ring that he picked up was Rama’s ring. To his astonishment, even the second ring he picked up was Rama’s ring. In fact all the rings that made up the mountain were identical. “What is the meaning of this?” he wondered.
Vasuki smiled and said, “This world we live in goes through cycles of life and death. Each life cycle of the world is called a kalpa. Each kalpa has four yugas or quarters. In the second quarter or Treta Yuga, Rama takes birth in Ayodhya. Then one day his ring falls into the subterranean realm of serpents through a tunnel. A monkey follows it and Rama on earth dies. So it has been for hundreds of thousands of kalpas. All these rings testify to that fact.”
Vasuki continued, “The mountain keeps growing as more rings fall. There is enough space for the rings of future Ramas.” Hanuman realised that his entry into Nag Lok and his encounter with the mountain of rings was no accident. It was Rama’s way of telling him that he could not stop death from coming. Rama would die. The world would die. But like all things, Rama would be reborn each time the world is reborn.
This cyclical view of life is the essence of Indic thought. But the period of colonial rule and later political developments led to distortions in our understanding of the Ramayana. That is why everyone wants to locate Rama in history and geography, and fight over dates and addresses – instead of looking at the larger picture. Rama is timeless and universal and so cannot be fettered to any period or place.
Nearly 1,750,000 years. Man has been on the earth a lot longer than generally accepted. Space images taken by NASA reveal a mysterious ancient bridge in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. The bridge is made of a chain of shoals 18 miles long. The bridge’s unique curvature and composition by age reveals that it is manmade. Legends as well as archeological studies reveal that the first sign of human inhabitants in Lanka date back to about 1,750,000 years ago the same as the bridge’s age.
In the concluding portion of the Uttara or Supplemental Book, the descendants of Rama and his brothers are described as the founders of the great cities and kingdoms which flourished in Western India in the fourth and fifth centuries before the Christian Era. Bharat had two sons, Taksha and Pushkala. The former founded Taksha-sila, to the east of the Indus, and known to Alexander and the Greeks as Taxila. The latter founded Pushkala-vati, to the west of the Indus, and known to Alexander and the Greeks as Peukelaotis.
Thus the sons of Bharat are said to have founded kingdoms which flourished on either side of the Indus river in the fourth century before Christ. Lakshman had two sons, Angada and Chandraketu. The former founded the kingdom of Karupada, and the latter founded the city of Chandrakanti in the Malwa country. Satrughna had two sons, Suvahu and Satrughati. The former became king of Mathura, and the latter ruled in Vidisha.
Rama had two sons, Lava and Kusa. The former ruled in Sravasti, which was the capital of Oudh at the time of the Buddha in the fifth and sixth centuries before Christ. The latter founded Kusavati at the foot of the Vindhya mountains.
Lord Krishna who helped the Pandavas in the Mahabharat, died after the Great War. There are many arguments about his death. While some believe that Krishna died at the age of 125, the other set of people on the basis of research done on his life say that he was 88 when he died. Apart from the age arguments, there are many stories that float in our society about Krishna’s death. However, as per religious scriptures, there is only one story.
In Dwarka, Sages Vishvamitra, Kanva and Narada paid a visit. Some youngsters made a boy dress like a woman. They went to Rishis and asked them that this woman is pregnant and if they can tell whether she will give birth to a boy or a girl. The Rishis did not appreciate the sense of humour of the youngsters and therefore, cursed that whatever is born to the woman shall cause the destruction of their race.
The boy was hiding an iron mace in his dress to make him look like a pregnant woman. When Balarama heard about it he got the mace powdered and had it thrown away in the ocean. A small piece, which remained, was also thrown away. In the 36th year after the war, Vrishnis went on a picnic. They all got drunk. There was a fight between Kritavarma and Satyaki who had taken opposite sides in the Great War. Soon, all took sides.
They took out stems of a very strong variety of sea weed, growing at the bank of the sea and hit each other. All of them died. Son of Krishna, Satyaki and Kritavarma, all were dead. Only Krishna, Balarama and Daruka, his charioteer remained. The seaweed had grown out of the powder of the mace, which had been thrown in to the sea. Balarama went in to a yogic trance and gave away his body.
He turned into a huge serpent and slipped in to the sea. It is said that he was an incarnation of the great Serpent ‘Seshanaga’ the bed of Lord Vishnu. Krishna was dejected and he was lying under a tree. A hunter passing by saw him and thought him to be a deer. Krishna was wearing yellow clothes. He shot an arrow made from the pieces of mace, thrown away. The arrow entered his sole and Krishna died and left for his eternal abode.
Arjuna came to Dwarka, as it was Krishna’s desire that all the women and children be taken care of by the Pandavas. Vasudeva, the father of Krishna gave up his body by yoga. Some of the women went to his funeral pyres along with the bodies of their husbands. Arjuna took all the women and children with him and started for Hastinapaura. As soon as they left Dwarka, the sea engulfed it.
The primary source of life and journey of Rams is the epic Ramayana composed by Maharishi Valmiki. The learned sage wanted to write an epic that would serve as an inspiration for generations to come, and highlight the ideals of human behavior in various roles assigned by the society. Devarishi Narad suggested to him to write about the life and times of Rama, the doyen of the Suryavanshi clan and the most beneficent ruler the land had ever seen.
This acknowledgement is mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayan itself and many Historians believe that this is the first suggestion that the story was based on an actual historical figure. Besides Valmiki Ramayan (4th century BCE), many other scriptures also attest to Shri Raam’s existence. Vishnu Puraan declares Rama as Lord Vishnu’s seventh incarnation, and the Bhagavat Puraan, recounts the story of Lord Rama in the 9th Skanda and counts him amongst the 24 major incarnations of the Vishnu Tattva.